Kim Vo is aiming to change the face — and hair — of Las Vegas.
Vo, who officially launched his namesake salon earlier this month at the Mirage Hotel and Casino, has become part of a small crop of recognized salon personalities that have set up shop in the city of excess. The Las Vegas location is the third salon the Vietnam-born color specialist is involved in, with one being B2V in West Hollywood., Calif., and another in Beverly Hills at the penthouse of the Sonya Dakar Skin Clinic.
“I am on my honeymoon,” said Vo, referring to his partnership with the Mirage, which holds a majority stake in the salon that is operated separately from the hotel-casino. “It is the most fantastic marriage. I feel like a spoiled child because everything I wanted, they gave to me.”
Even before this salon opened, Vo had considerable experience with the Las Vegas hair scene, having worked at Privé with Las Vegas salon stalwart Michael Boychuck when Laurent Dufourg opened a now closed outpost at the Bellagio. Several years ago, Vo started seriously discussing entering Las Vegas himself and even had a close call with Planet Hollywood when it operated as the Aladdin. “It wasn’t the right time,” he said of that pairing.
Ultimately, Vo became convinced he could succeed in Las Vegas after designer stores planted themselves there — and it didn’t hurt that the Mirage was willing to put up millions to design a smashing salon. “When luxury is built up with gorgeous Chanel dresses and Marc Jacobs dresses, you want to look great,” he said, speaking of the Las Vegas crowd. “It is a natural flow to go for high-end salons.”
But Vo heard many voices telling him that extending his brand could be bad for his L.A. salons. Others warned him that the hair business in Las Vegas lacks sophistication and is all about blowouts. “Everyone told me blow-dry, nails and makeup are going to be my main income,” he recounted. “It has been the opposite.” He estimated that color services have increased 80 percent from the salon’s prior incarnation. (Vo took over an existing salon, which was owned and run by the casino.)
This story first appeared in the March 21, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
To satisfy the expectations of his L.A. clients visiting Las Vegas, Vo created a 5,000-square-foot destination salon. Designed by Architropolis, the salon features an expansive glass storefront and a color palette of black, charcoal, taupe, white and silver. Key retail brands include Kérastase and Vo’s own line, which was unveiled last January at Barneys New York.
Vo’s goal is to reach $5 million in first-year revenues, although he more conservatively predicts that it will generate $2.5 million to $3 million. Hair service prices range from $65 for a blow-dry to $75 for a women’s haircut and $170 for full highlights. Manicures cost $40, makeup $70 and brow-shaping $25.
“I really wanted to bring a piece of Beverly Hills there,” he said. “People have responded.”